STL Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year
president and CEO
Insituform Technologies was facing stagnant revenues, low earnings and a proxy battle with a major shareholder in 2008 when Joe Burgess took on the challenging role of president and CEO.
Now, not only has Burgess’s entrepreneurial spirit and fresh perspective reinvigorated the company, creating a trajectory of significant growth and diversification, but he also transformed the firm with a series of acquisitions and a new name — Aegion Corp.
So, how did Burgess completely change the culture and direction of company and its existing base business as a municipal government contractor to more than double revenues since 2007? He did so by not being afraid to think unconventionally. Burgess moved a company with a rich 40-year history into more profitable energy markets to become a global pipeline protection and rehabilitation business.
To start the company’s overall diversification strategy, Burgess held his first Evergreen Strategy Process, which gathered the entire management team to discuss new ideas, products, markets and service offerings. The strategy sessions continue today on a quarterly basis.
Burgess’s mantra was that “no good idea will go unfunded.” He motivated employees to stretch themselves when thinking of new ideas and product offerings.
He also created a pay-for-performance culture and compensation programs for executives and employees. Burgess recognizes compensation is typically the single greatest motivator of retaining high-performing individuals, and thus “one size fits all” is not sufficient.
Burgess’s innovation, which has become part of the company culture, has led to new technology being used in copper mines in South America and a workforce that has more than 300 engineers dedicated to creating complete engineering solutions to customers’ complex structural integrity problems.
In addition, Burgess is a strong believer in corporate responsibility. He started the practice of setting aside company funds to be used for charitable activities, as well as capturing employee man-hours that are contributed to charity.
How to reach: Aegion Corp., www.aegion.com